Here is an overview of what your typical beer undergoes before it ends up in your cooler.
Malt is cracked open to expose the starches inside. These starches eventually will be converted to the sugars that give beer its sweetness. Once malt has been cracked, it is referred to as "grist."
Water is combined with the grist to make what is called "mash." The temperature of the mash may be raised and lowered multiple times, inducing the starches from the malt to convert to sugars.
The grist is extracted, leaving behind a sugary liquid destined to become beer. This liquid is called "wort."
The wort is boiled for sterilization. Hops are added at this point. Alpha acids are released from the hops into the liquid, giving the beer the desired level of bitterness.
The hops are separated out of the wort, which is then transferred to a fermentation tank.
Yeast is added to the wort. Although there are many species of yeast, these can be categorized into two basic types: ale yeast and lager yeast. Ale yeast ferments around 59-69˚ Fahrenheit, while lager yeast ferments at a cooler temperature, around 45-60˚ Fahrenheit. The differing temperatures will cause notable flavor differences between the two basic styles of beer.
After the wort ferments, it is called "green beer." Green beer must age before packaging and distribution, a process that can take weeks.
The beer is finally ready to be packaged and shipped off to your favorite bars and restaurants, and of course, your neighborhood Publix!
Although most beers undergo this process in one way or another, each is unique. Brewers may choose from a variety of different malts, hundreds of yeast strains, and many types of hops that vary based on species and location of origin. The roasting process for the malt differs among recipes. And as if those factors weren't enough, brewers frequently use additions not found in this basic formula, such as spices or fruit peel. Brewers are true artists—no two produce exactly the same beer! That's what makes beer tasting an endlessly engaging pastime the world over.
For information on finding beers you love at Publix, check out our new beer identification guide and flavor balance guide.
Publix promotes responsible drinking and supports efforts to fight alcohol abuse and underage drinking. Please visit the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility at www.responsibility.org for more information.